Note on Legal Resources


Some of you may be familiar with and Westlaw.  At Northeastern, those resources are reserved for the use of Law School affiliates.  Snell Library provides access to Westlaw Campus Research, the academic library version of Westlaw. HeinOnline is another excellent source for both contemporary and historical legal materials.


Massachusetts residents/students have access to Westlaw and Lexis through the state Trial Court Library system.  There are 15 trial court libraries in the Commonwealth; check the Trial Court Library site for locations and information about resources and user privileges. If you are an out-of-state resident, please contact me and I'll help you locate libraries and resource centers in your area.

Notes on Regulations

Regulations are written by executive departments and agencies, typically, with authorization from Congress or a state legislature.  Many Presidential publications, including Executive Orders, Proclamations, and Administrative Orders are published in the Federal Register and later compiled in the Code of Federal Regulations.  Most states also publish Registers and Codes.

Check out The Federal Register: What it Is and How to Use It.  This is a tutorial provided courtesy of the National Archives of the United States.

As you look through regulatory materials, you'll notice that the words "rules" and "rule-making" appear with some frequency. The terms "rules" and "regulations" are often used interchangeably.

Government Organization

Cover of The United States Government Manual, 2020  

The United States Government Manual provides a useful orientation to federal agencies, including those with regulatory authority. The Manual provides information and links to information about agencies. Learn about an agency's mission and find out which laws regulatory agencies enforce. 

Some states also provide government (executive and legislative manuals) manuals, although practices vary widely from state to state.  A number of states no longer publish manuals while other focus exclusively on a single branch of government whether legislative or executive. You may check state websites or the following sites which may help you identify relevant materials.

Federal Rules and Regulations

What's the Difference?

Federal Register
Official; may be cited in legal proceedings and documents Unofficial
Assumes some knowledge of the regulatory process Public facing; comparatively easy to use and understand
All federal regulatory agencies participate Not all federal regulatory agencies participate
Covers 1936 to present began in 2003
May set up tables of content alerts May set up e-mail alerts
Includes Executive Orders Does not include Executive Orders


Code of Federal Regulations


Here is the official description of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) taken from the Government Publishing Office web site.  Title 3 of the Code contains Presidential communications including Executive Orders and Proclamations.

The Code of Federal Regulations is a codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the Executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government. The Code is divided into 50 titles which represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation. Each title is divided into chapters which usually bear the name of the issuing agency. Each chapter is further subdivided into parts covering specific regulatory areas. Each volume of the Code is revised at least once each calendar year and issued on a quarterly basis approximately as follows:

Title 1 through Title of January 1

Title 17 through Title 27 of April 1 

Title 28 through Title 41 of July 1 

Title 42 through Title of October 1 

Massachusetts Regulations

Other States' Regulations

Municipal Codes

There is no one central source for all municipal codes. Four services provide codes for a number of municipalities and you may need to check all four to find the code of interest.

Also, you may search individual city websites; some will provide links to ordinances and codes.

These publishers provide access to a number of municipals codes. Each website has both free and subscription sections, but you'll be able to view a number of codes free of charge.